Spain: Cement Consumption Falls in 2023 Due to Economic Instability and Post-Pandemic Stagnation

In 2023, Spain's cement consumption decreased, affected by economic instability and a three-year stagnation following the pandemic.

Spain: Cement Consumption Falls in 2023 Due to Economic Instability and Post-Pandemic Stagnation
Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska / Unsplash

Spain's cement consumption experienced a decline of 2.9% in 2023, totaling 14.5 million tons. This decrease is attributed to the economic instability that has persisted over the last few years, leading to a stagnation period following the pandemic. This situation has impacted public investment execution and business decision-making in the private market, as explained by Alan Svaiter, the president of the cement manufacturers' association Oficemen, during a press conference.

In December alone, cement consumption plummeted by 12% compared to the same month in 2022, with only 1 million tons consumed. This trend of declining consumption was observed throughout the year, with positive values only in January, March, and May, and negative values in the remaining months.

Compared to the European average, Spain's per capita cement consumption, at about 317 kilograms per inhabitant per year, is 34% lower than the average of 480 kilograms. If Spain's consumption were to align with this average, it would reach 20 million tons, a figure Oficemen considers more consistent with the Spanish economy.

Cement consumption in Spain is largely driven by public works (44%) and residential and non-residential building (56%), making it heavily dependent on the construction sector's performance. According to the latest data from Seopan, public tendering fell by 1.9% until November of the previous year.

Although the residential market grew by 2.5%, reaching 91,620 licensed dwellings, and is expected to hit 111,000 units by the end of 2023, the non-residential building sector, encompassing both public and private investment, dragged down overall building activity with a 13.4% drop in licensed square meters until September.

Oficemen forecasts a "zero growth" year for cement consumption in 2024, expecting it to remain around 14.5 million tons, marking the fifth consecutive year of stagnation around 15 million tons. Cement and clinker exports also fell by 7.5% in 2023 to 5.2 million tons, while imports were limited to less than a million tons, a 35% decrease from 2022.

The challenge of decarbonization remains significant for the cement industry, which has already reduced its total CO2 emissions by 44% compared to 1990 levels. Achieving complete sectoral climate neutrality by 2050 is essential for Spain to meet its national goals and for the sector's competitiveness. This requires the development of carbon capture, transportation, storage, and utilization technologies (CCUS), along with public support beyond current initiatives and a clear regulatory framework to prevent the risk of manufacturing relocation to regions with less stringent environmental regulations.

Europa Press